Turpentine Creek rescues African Serval found wandering New Mexico

Thursday, October 31, 2019

An African Serval found his forever home at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge earlier this month.

The serval, Hunter, was rescued from New Mexico after being found wandering the Santa Fe area. Servals are not native to the United States; Hunter had been purchased from a notorious breeder in Arkansas and was then illegally bought in New Mexico. This was his second time to escape from his previous owner.

Hunter's first escape happened in 2016. He and a female serval left his previous owner's home and while Hunter was recovered after a full month, the female was never found. Officials speculate she perished.

Because it is illegal to own an African Serval in New Mexico, state officials told Hunter's previous owner to either surrender Hunter or relocate to a state where it is legal to own him. He chose to relocate.

In August of this year, officials began receiving reports of a serval roaming Santa Fe. The serval was captured and taken to the ABQ Biological Park in Albuquerque where he was scanned for a microchip. Surprisingly, the animal was identified as Hunter, who had allegedly left the state with his owner back in 2016.

When his previous owner was contacted, he claimed that as he was walking Hunter to the car in 2016 to leave the state, Hunter slipped out of his collar and escaped once again. However, given the state of his health, officials were hard-pressed to believe that Hunter had been on his own for three years.

Turpentine Creek was contacted by supporters who live in New Mexico regarding a serval who needed a new home. He was under the care of ABQ Biological Park but could not stay there. Turpentine Creek representatives reached out to the park and offered to help.Turpentine Creek then partnered with International Fund for Animal Welfare who covered the costs to transport Hunter from New Mexico to Amarillo, where Turpentine Creek team members picked him up Thursday and brought him back to the refuge.

Before his rescue, Hunter was described as a healthy feline who was confident, food-motivated and loved behavioral training. Turpentine Creek's assistant animal curator Laurie Vanderwal reported that Hunter traveled well. After arriving back in Eureka Springs and being released into the holding area of the Jackson Memorial Veterinary Hospital, Hunter didn't hesitate to emerge from his crate to explore.

"He hisses a lot but doesn't seem afraid of us," Vanderwal said.

Through monitoring hunter on the veterinary hospital's camera, Vanderwal said he seemed comfortable and at one time even appeared deeply asleep, which is a positive sign considering the long trip and strange new environment he finds himself in. Hunter will be quarantined in the Jackson Memorial Veterinary Hospital before being released into an outdoor grass habitat.

Turpentine Creek is asking for donations to support the lifelong care of their new serval resident. Those wishing to give Hunter stability and loving care for the first time in his life can donate to the general fund at www.tcwr.org/donate, at www.Facebook.com/TurpentineCreekWildlifeRefuge or by mailing checks to: Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, 239 Turpentine Creek Lane, Eureka Springs, Ark. 72632.

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